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The History Portal

Historia, 1892 painting by Nikolaos Gyzis

History (from Greek ἱστορία, historia, meaning "inquiry, knowledge acquired by investigation") is the study of the past as it is described in written documents. Events occurring before written record are considered prehistory. It is an umbrella term that relates to past events as well as the memory, discovery, collection, organization, presentation, and interpretation of information about these events. Scholars who write about history are called historians.

History can also refer to the academic discipline which uses a narrative to examine and analyse a sequence of past events, and objectively determine the patterns of cause and effect that determine them. Historians sometimes debate the nature of history and its usefulness by discussing the study of the discipline as an end in itself and as a way of providing "perspective" on the problems of the present.

Stories common to a particular culture, but not supported by external sources (such as the tales surrounding King Arthur), are usually classified as cultural heritage or legends, because they do not show the "disinterested investigation" required of the discipline of history. Herodotus, a 5th-century BC Greek historian is considered within the Western tradition to be the "father of history", and, along with his contemporary Thucydides, helped form the foundations for the modern study of human history. Their works continue to be read today, and the gap between the culture-focused Herodotus and the military-focused Thucydides remains a point of contention or approach in modern historical writing. In East Asia, a state chronicle, the Spring and Autumn Annals was known to be compiled from as early as 722 BC although only 2nd-century BC texts survived.

Ancient influences have helped spawn variant interpretations of the nature of history which have evolved over the centuries and continue to change today. The modern study of history is wide-ranging, and includes the study of specific regions and the study of certain topical or thematical elements of historical investigation. Often history is taught as part of primary and secondary education, and the academic study of history is a major discipline in university studies.

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Though in ruins, the Flavian Amphitheatre, now known as the Colosseum, still stands today
The inaugural games of the Flavian Amphitheatre were held in AD 80, on the orders of the Roman Emperor Titus, to celebrate the completion of the Colosseum, then known as the Flavian Amphitheatre (Latin: Amphitheatrum Flavium). Vespasian began construction of the amphitheatre around AD 70, and it was completed by Titus soon after Vespasian's death in AD 79. After Titus' reign began with months of disasters – including the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, a fire in Rome, and an outbreak of plague – he inaugurated the building with lavish games which lasted for more than a hundred days, perhaps partially in an attempt to appease the Roman public and the gods.

Little documentary evidence of the nature of the games (ludi) remains. They appear to have followed the standard format of the Roman games: animal entertainments in the morning session, followed by the executions of criminals around midday, with the afternoon session reserved for gladiatorial combats and recreations of famous battles. The animal entertainments, which featured creatures from throughout the Roman Empire, included extravagant hunts and fights between different species. Animals also played a role in some executions which were staged as recreations of myths and historical events. Naval battles formed part of the spectacles but whether these took place in the amphitheatre or on a lake that had been specially constructed by Augustus is a topic of debate among historians.

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A Serbian Orthodox icon of Prince Jovan Vladimir, who was recognized as a saint shortly after his death
Jovan Vladimir or John Vladimir (Serbian Cyrillic: Јован Владимир; died 22 May 1016) was ruler of Duklja, the most powerful Serbian principality of the time, from around 1000 to 1016. He ruled during the protracted war between the Byzantine Empire and the First Bulgarian Empire. His close relationship with Byzantium did not save Duklja from the expansionist Tsar Samuel of Bulgaria, who conquered the principality in around 1010 and took Jovan Vladimir prisoner. A medieval chronicle asserts that Samuel's daughter, Theodora Kosara, fell in love with Vladimir and begged her father for his hand. The tsar allowed the marriage and returned Duklja to Vladimir, who ruled as his vassal.

Vladimir was acknowledged as a pious, just, and peaceful ruler. He took no part in his father-in-law's war efforts. The warfare culminated with Samuel's defeat by the Byzantines in 1014; the tsar died soon afterward. In 1016 Vladimir fell victim to a plot by Ivan Vladislav, the last ruler of the First Bulgarian Empire. He was beheaded in front of a church in Prespa, the empire's capital, and was buried there. He was soon recognized as a martyr and saint; his feast day is celebrated on 22 May. His widow, Kosara, reburied him in the Prečista Krajinska Church, near his court in southeastern Duklja. In 1381 his remains were preserved in the Church of Saint Jovan Vladimir near Elbasan, and since 1995 they have been kept in the Orthodox cathedral of Tirana, Albania. The saint's remains are considered relics, and attract many believers, especially on his feast day, when the relics are taken to the church near Elbasan for a celebration.

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Sameul Daniell - Kora-Khokhoi preparing to move - 1805.jpg

The Khoikhoi were a historical group of Khoisan people, native to southwest Africa. The Khokhois had settled the region in the 5th century AD, and when Europeans first arrived there in 1652, they were still practicing traditional pastoral agriculture. Here, they are dismantling their huts in preparation for moving to more fertile grazing grounds.

On this day

October 17: Dessalines Day in Haiti (1806)

Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra, Australia
Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra, Australia

Edward Hawke, 1st Baron Hawke (d. 1781) · Childe Hassam (b. 1859) · Chuka Umunna (b. 1978)

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In truth history does not belong to us but rather we to history.

— Hans-Georg Gadamer, German philosopher

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Greater Coat of Arms of the Russian Empire 1700x1767 pix Igor Barbe 2006.jpg
Russian Empire

"Russia—a state which contains all type of soil, from the warmest to the coldest, from the burning environs of Erivan to icy Lapland; which abounds in all the products required for the needs, comforts, and pleasures of life, in accordance with its present state of development—a whole world, self-sufficient, independent, absolute."
Mikhail Pogodin

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